As the Sodomy II trial of Anwar Ibrahim wraps up, Anwar made a stirring defense that both professed his innocence and lambasted procedural irregularities during the trial. Asia Sentinel has a summary of the defense and the main criticisms of the judiciary. I definitely recommend reading it for anybody interested in Malaysia and its struggle with the rule of law.
Category Archives: Malaysia
Lot’s of interesting bits of news, but not of a lot of time to post them. Here are some samples:
Myanmar/Burma: Talk about the tables turning! The National Unity Party, formerly Ne Win’s Burma Socialist Programme Party, has urged the government to adhere to the rule of law and release all political prisoners. If anything, the courts under the BSPP (1972-88) were even more of a mess than Myanmar’s current judiciary. However, the NUP’s current statements probably reflect the fact that out-of-power dictators prefer to live under the rule of law, in the belief that legal procedures can provide them with some protection from the current elite. Still, it’s an interesting twist to Myanmar’s political dialogue. Personally, I hope the opposition continues its focus on the rule of law, as that might be more palatable to the elites than “democracy.”
Malaysia: Yet another twist in the infamous Anwar Ibrahim sodomy trial. This time, government chemists claim the DNA found in the alleged sodomy victim matched Anwar’s. I’ve already blogged frequently about the case, but needless to say it seems highly political. Asia Sentinel provides a good rundown of the case, the evidence, and the very suspicious circumstances surrounding the alleged “victim.”
Philippines: The Supreme Court cleared a Court of Appeals justice of charges of gross negligence after she accepted a fraudulent contract into evidence. The deed was apparently signed in 2008 by an individual who had died in 2001. It’s not clear from the article exactly what the justice knew at the time of the case. However, I’m left wondering why anybody forging a contract would rely upon a signature that’s so easily falsifiable!
A few weeks ago I reported the judge in the Anwar trial threw out a key piece of DNA evidence because the government had obtained it illegally without Anwar’s consent. It turns out I spoke too soon. According to Asia Sentinel, the judge has reversed his order and allowed the evidence in. Given turnarounds like that, it’s hard not to sympathize with the pessimistic views of many Malaysian lawyers about their country’s courts…
A quick update on the Anwar “homosexuality” trial in Malaysia. One of the government prosecutors allegedly had a sexual affair with a key Anwar witness. This is the same key former aide who accused Anwar of sodomizing him. That compromises the prosecution’s case a bit, to say the least. Here are articles from the Economist and Tribune.
First of all, I apologize for not posting the past few weeks. I’ve been a bit sick and decided to take it easy.
When catching up on the news, I saw an interesting development in Malaysia. The government recently appointed two female judges to the Shariah court system – the first women ever on the Islamic bench. Sisters in Islam, a feminist NGO group, had long advocated such a move in order to reduce the alleged bias against women on the courts. However, as I discussed in my recent review of the book Islamic Modern, the reality of gender dynamics in the courts might be a bit more complex. Nonetheless, a greater gender balance on the bench is inevitably a positive development for the Shariah courts.